CNN’s Cuomo clashes with Conway over Trump’s firing of Comey

Dylan Stableford
Senior Editor

In her second combative appearance on CNN in less than 12 hours, Kellyanne Conway continued to defend President Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, claiming in an interview with “New Day” host Chris Cuomo that the timing had nothing to do with the bureau’s open investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.

“You want to question the timing of when he fires, when he hires — it’s inappropriate,” Conway, a special counselor to the president, told Cuomo. “He’ll do it when he wants to.”

Trump fired Comey on Tuesday night, setting off a political firestorm that reportedly caught the White House off-guard. According to multiple news accounts, Trump officials believed that Democrats would welcome his dismissal after blasting Comey over his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails during the 2016 presidential campaign. But Comey’s firing drew condemnation from both sides of the aisle.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., said he was “troubled by the timing and reasoning of Director Comey’s termination.”

“His dismissal, I believe, is a loss for the bureau and the nation,” Burr said.

Conway holds up a copy of the firing letter that Trump had sent to Comey during an interview with CNN at the White House on Wednesday. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

On CNN, Conway urged Cuomo to read the letter from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein released by the White House Tuesday saying that Comey’s conduct during the latter stages of the 2016 presidential campaign had sullied the bureau’s reputation.

“I’ve read it — it’s two pages, Kellyanne, it doesn’t take that long,” Cuomo shot back. “And it mostly says people in there didn’t like him.”

Cuomo said the Russia investigation was just “heating up” and called Conway’s explanation for Comey’s firing “deceptive.”

“You want this to be, as the president says, a hoax. I get it,” Cuomo said. “I’ve got to check what you’re saying. I’ve got to provide the context for it. Because you’re creating an image that doesn’t reveal itself in fact.”

“The idea that you think this was about Russia, and not about an FBI director who just yesterday forced his bureau to correct sworn testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee,” she countered. Last week, Comey testified that former Clinton aide Huma Abedin had forwarded thousands of emails to her then-husband, former Rep. Anthony Weiner, which were discovered by the FBI last summer during a separate probe; on Tuesday, the FBI said Comey had misspoken.

“So President Trump was so upset that James Comey was unfair to Huma Abedin that he fired him?” Cuomo asked.

“No,” Conway replied. “President Trump wants an FBI director who is impartial, who is not politicized and who has the confidence and trust of people in the bureau.”

On Tuesday night, Conway also sparred with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, who pointed out that Trump had repeatedly praised Comey for his decision to alert Congress that the FBI was reopening its investigation into Clinton’s emails just days before the election.

“All of a sudden the White House is concerned about James Comey’s handling of Hillary Clinton’s emails?” Cooper asked Conway. “Why now are you concerned about the Hillary Clinton email investigation when as a candidate Trump was praising it from the campaign trail?”

“I think you’re looking at the wrong set of facts here,” Conway replied. “You’re going back to the campaign. This man is the president of the United States.”

“That makes no sense,” Cooper said during their tense, 13-minute exchange. “So that person doesn’t exist anymore, candidate Donald Trump, that’s a fictional character we are no longer allowed to refer to? We can now only refer to the Donald Trump that exists today?”

“This had nothing to do with Russia as much as somebody must be getting $50 every time the word is said, I’m convinced, on TV,” Conway protested. “This has nothing do with Russia. It has everything to do with whether the current FBI director has the president’s confidence and can faithfully and capably execute his duties.”

It appears the president himself spent part of the morning watching CNN’s “New Day.” On Twitter, Trump fiercely attacked Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who appeared in an interview on the show. The president also attacked another CNN report as “fake.”

Cuomo responded to Trump’s tweets on air.

“The president watching us this morning, as always. We appreciate the viewership,” Cuomo said. “Mr. President, you should say, ‘We need a special prosecutor.’”

The Comey Firing Letters

Read more from Yahoo News: